This week, our guest on Buzz By The Bay is a power house from the Women’s Premier League (WPL). The left-arm spinner, Saika Ishaque, who hails from a humble background in Kolkata, plays for Mumbai Indians. Landing into the Mukesh Ambani-owned team wasn't a cakewalk as her way to the pitch was fraught with hurdles. Ishaque proved her mettle by taking 15 wickets in the inaugural match, which made her the second highest wicket-taker in the WPL. She spoke about her coach Shiv Sagar Singh and team members, the sacrifices her mother made for her career, and her visits to famed Antilia. Excerpts from her interview given to Anushka Jagtiani.
Tell us about your favourite match.
My favourite match was the first one against Delhi because I took Shafali Verma’s wicket, which was a dream for me.
You were the second highest wicket-taker in the WPL. Has people’s perception about you changed? Is it hard to deal with this sudden celebrity status?
Yes, people have started recognising me and it feels nice. Earlier, when I used to travel nobody would recognise me at an airport. Now, they want selfies with me. Support from my family members has strengthened after this achievement. I have fulfilled my late father’s dream so I am grateful for that.
You have worked closely with Shiv Sagar Singh. Did he change your game completely or just made minor technical adjustments?
He helped me gain a lot of mental strength. He told me if I want to play at a higher level I would have to play like a boy, not like a girl. When I got selected for WPL, he made me practice with second division boys for 12 -15 days. So it became easier for me to bowl to the overseas players because they hit like boys. It wasn’t tough for me.
Did your family support your dream of becoming a cricketer?
Actually, it was my father’s wish that I become a professional cricketer, but I didn’t achieve it in his lifetime. My mother supported me a lot. I have been playing since childhood and she would accompany me to the grounds when I went to practice back then. She would wait there for me and skip her meals. She struggled a lot, much more than I did.
You started playing for the Bengal senior team and then suffered a shoulder injury?
Yes, I had a shoulder injury and dropped from the team. Even after recovering I was not in the team for a year. I was mentally very disturbed. That’s when I went to Shiv Sir and told him I can’t bowl anymore. He said, “Who was bowling before when you played with India against South Africa and Sri Lanka? If you could do it then, then why can’t you do it now?”